Breaking In Shoei and Alpinestars' Latest Motorcycle Gear: Part 1
When I went down, my gear saved my life. Between the eighth-inch deep gashes in my helmet, and my jacket, gloves, and boots protecting the rest of my body, I only came away with a broken shoulder, and some bruises. My gear took the brunt of the impact, and as such, were almost completely destroyed as I rag dolled across the jagged rocks. My gear paid the price so my body wouldn’t have to. That’s why, when ready to ride again, I reached out to Shoei and Alpinestars to talk safety, and begin reviewing gear, finding the best protection to go out and enjoy motorcycles safely. As luck would have it, both companies want to see you ride safer as well. RELATED: Why Good Helmets Matter
Shoei RF-1200 Helmet
The Shoei RF-1200 is an interesting design in terms of safety and technology. For the outer part of the helmet, Shoei uses a design called the Multi-Ply Matrix Aim+ Shell, and is comprised of an outer layer of fiberglass, a second layer of organic fibers, a third layer that uses a 3D composite and a special layer of proprietary composites. Inside, the RF-1200 has a Dual-Layer/Multi-Density EPS liner that helps with impact absorption, not only protecting your skull, but your brain as well.
Due to Shoei’s use of lightweight materials, the Shoei RF-1200 is also extraordinarily light. Weighing barely four pounds, the RF-1200 helps reduce the strain on your neck caused by heavier helmets. This thereby lets you go further without having to stop and stretch. Over the course of the last two months, I’ve been able to travel all around Southern California, and not once did my neck or shoulders become tired or sore.
Where that lightweight, thinner design falls short is in wind noise. The RF-1200 is loud at highway speeds. Around town, and short trips, it’s perfectly acceptable, but above 70 miles per hour is not pleasant. That however doesn’t detract from the overall quality of the helmet.
For the helmet shown in these pictures, the price tag is $589.99, however, a plain black RF-1200 will only set you back $485.99. Nevertheless, a good, well made, and safe helmet is important to having a long riding career. And personally, I’d rather invest in something that could well save my life then buying a cheap piece of plastic.
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Alpinestars GP Tech Jacket
You slide into the Alpinestars GP Tech jacket, and immediately feel like Iron Man. You feel the weight, the armor, and the amount of safety engineering that went into this jacket. And that’s the point. The GP Tech jacket is essentially the top half of a MotoGP suit. It aims to provide a level of safety and security, without sacrificing the ease of a daily use jacket.
While wearing the GP Tech, you become aware that while mostly consisting of leather and armor, it has plenty of ventilation. Alpinestars designed the GP Tech jacket to provide vast amounts of airflow, all of which is designed to keep you cool and dry, even when riding hard through the Californian sun.
Where the GP Tech jacket falters is in cold weather protection, as I found out while riding the Honda NM4 to Vegas as snow began to fall. Wearing a sweatshirt underneath helped, but this jacket wasn’t designed for winter conditions. It was designed warmer weather and to keep you safe beyond any doubt.
The GP Tech jacket takes that safety to another level and uses a ton of MotoGP technology. The jacket encompasses Alpinestars’ race-derived, CE-approved GPR shoulder and elbow protectors, as well as the company’s Dynamic Friction Shield on the outside of the shoulder, and in the elbow sliders. Additionally, the GP Tech jacket has chest padding, the leather’s designed to take a beating, and a back pad that opens up to insert the optional back plate.
Each piece on the jacket was designed to have you walk away from a wreck. While riding with it on, you feel more confident, and less afraid of those around you, which allow you to focus on the experience of riding rather than the fear of wrecking.
The GP Tech jacket, like Shoei’s RF-1200 helmet, isn’t cheap. At $999.95, it’s an expensive piece of kit. But for those looking for the ultimate in safety and engineering, as well as looking like a badass, you can’t go wrong with the GP Tech jacket.
Stay tuned for part two.
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Photo Credit: Joseph Yoon Jr.